Pathways to the future at Suffolk New College

Olly Spiers from Suffolk Rural, Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year

Olly Spiers from Suffolk Rural was named Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year - Credit: Suffolk Rural

Suffolk New College has a long tradition of supporting thousands of students across the region on hundreds of course programmes – consistently helping them progress into careers or higher education.

In the last three years, Suffolk New College’s Ipswich HQ has added three new campuses which brings education provision closer to the wider communities of Suffolk.

At the turn of 2020, it joined forces with Suffolk Rural (formerly Otley College) and in the last three years they have opened two new locations in Leiston and Halesworth under the brand of Suffolk New College On The Coast.

All campuses have been set up to offer a variety of post-16 academic and vocational courses for people of all ages and abilities.

The Ipswich campus is constantly investing to enable learners to gain the skills they need in top-of-the-range facilities.

Currently learners have access to a wide range of specialist spaces, including construction workshops, a sports centre, a performance theatre, a restaurant for those on culinary arts programmes and a forensic area, including mock crime scenes, for those on science courses.

The new tech centre, called Tech Campus, will open in September for those interested in E-sports and digital and IT careers, and the college is hoping to create a new area for those interested in health and social courses next year.

Suffolk Rural student with hedgehog

Students have been supporting a hedgehog rehoming scheme with charity Poppy's Creche - Credit: Suffolk Rural

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Over at Suffolk Rural, agricultural learners get to work on the college farm, and animal students are exposed to a wide variety of species, ranging from mice to meerkats and rabbits to reptiles.

They also get to work with charities, and recently teamed up with Poppy’s Creche for a hedgehog rehoming project. Those interested in horses get to work in a state-of-the-art equine centre and horticultural students learn their trade in a selection of greenhouses as well as the great outdoors.

Suffolk New College has completed a number of projects at Suffolk Rural which enhance and improve the teaching environment, all of which will benefit new students from September onwards. The provision offered at Suffolk Rural suits young people who like to be outdoors and learning about the environment and there are a range of bus routes which the college has in place to help students get to the site.

Over at the ‘On The Coast’ campuses, the courses range from cookery to construction and hairdressing to games design.

Despite the challenges of lockdown, the college was able to continue to offer exceptional opportunities for students throughout the past 18 months.

Sports students grilled the England football goalkeeper Nick Pope, and equine learners visited a horse trainer in Newmarket.

Public services students had a session with the deputy chief constable from Suffolk & Norfolk Constabulary about anti-corruption in the police after students were intrigued by this following the celebrated TV show Line of Duty.

Performing arts students wowed an online audience with their end of the year show, and learners from across Suffolk Rural showcased their talents at an annual family fun day called the Big Day Out, where over 5,000 visitors came to the site.
Horticultural students are working with Thompson & Morgan on a project for The Chelsea Flower Show, which will be seen next academic year.

Students performing in the end of the year showcase

Performing arts students wowed an online audience with their end of the year show - Credit: George Deadman / Suffolk New College

With these opportunities came unbelievable achievements that were celebrated during an awards event recognising top performing students for their efforts. They included Mia Hunter, who picked up two awards for being the student of the year in the subjects of English and Foundation Studies.

On her success, she said: “I chose to study at Suffolk New College as it seemed the best place for me. After college I want to work in a nursery with children. The skills I’m getting from the college will help me do that. To be recognised in this way feels very good and I’m completely shocked – it’s a real confidence booster.”

All students were guided through the year thanks to the support of inspirational staff. Health and Social Care lecturer Lara Thomas is a good source of inspiration to students after being picked to represent Team GB for a triathlon, and Andrea Thompson from the apprenticeships department has broken several world records and became the world’s strongest woman in 2018.

Andrea Thompson with Ruth Langsford

Andrea Thompson (right) from the apprenticeships department became the world’s strongest woman in 2018 - Credit: Andrea Thompson

The college also offers a host of apprenticeship pathways for students who are looking to earn and learn whilst working in industry. Two learners who chose this path include 20-year-old Olly Spiers, who decided he wanted to stay close to home after a family member became ill. His dedication was rewarded when he received the regional title of Suffolk Agricultural Apprentice of the Year in a competition supported by Fram Farmers and the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

Also, Emma Lodge gave up a career as a hairdresser to get into farming and she can currently be seen working with Suffolk Punch horses at the East Anglian Museum of Rural Life.

Marketing manager at the college, Craig Shimmon, said: “We have a broad range of courses for all interests and abilities and we’re one of the first colleges in the country to offer the new T-level programme that has seen one of our students (Sam Corneby) became a national ambassador for these qualifications.

“We continue to see some amazing learner achievements every year and we are very excited to be welcoming students to our four campuses from September.

“We are still open for applications for September 2021 and welcome the opportunity to speak to adults and young people about how we can help them meet their ambitions and dreams for the future.” 

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